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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Murdoch's way « Previous | |Next »
July 6, 2011

In Australia News Ltd is saying naught about the phone hacking scandal in the UK by New's International tabloid now toxic News of the World, the so called working mans paper. Even The Australian, which is so quick to point the figure for wrong doing by others, is silent.

This suggests that they think that a few celebrities and politicians who had their voicemails accessed by journalists was of little significance in the great scheme of things, even though it is actually a central story about the power and dominance of the media in liberal democracy. It has almost everything — royalty, police corruption, Downing Street complicity, celebrities by the cartload, Fleet Street at its most evil and disgusting.


The denial dam, which had been so carefully built by News International around the scandal caused by grub street's idea of "investigative journalism", has finally burst.

There is to be an emergency debate in the House of Commons, Labour is calling for Rebekah Brooks, the ex-News of the World editor to resign, advertisers are starting to pull their advertising, many are saying that an independent public inquiry into the whole affair is what is needed, whilst the credibility of the Press Complaints Commission is in tatters.

Murdoch's way is systematic deception and bully boy tactics on behalf of conservative politics. News International's style of news is to advance the specific interests of News Corp., not to inform citizens about public issues so they can make considered judgements. News International looks increasingly tarnished.

Murdoch will be forced to act shore up its defences and protect its key personnel to prevent the rest of the sprawling Murdoch media empire from becoming contaminated. What we have seen so far from Murdoch and his top executives is lies, obfuscation, pushback, bluster, dissembling, and generally the unedifying spectacle of extremely rich and powerful people doing their very best to never be called to account.

Will Murdoch be held accountable in the UK for decades of ethical bankruptcy, including not mere wiretapping and bribery, but three political generations of influence-peddling and who knows what else?

The phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World continues to unfold as more out of control phone hacking is being revealed. At the centre of the storm is Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, who was editor of the News of the World in 2002. News of the World is a newspaper that is still profitable and still selling north of 2.6m copies an issue.

The phone-hacking scandal and News International's attempts at covering up the way it routinely dug the dirt on people highlights how the police were dishonest and evasive; the press regulator was feeble and incompetent; Parliament was, ineffective, if not intimidated, and the fourth estate, apart from The Guardian, turned a blind eye. The series of checks and balances to prevent high-level corruption failed. A dominant global media empire was able to ride roughshod over the law and to become a power unto itself.

A proper, independent public inquiry into the phone hacking is what is needed in order to drag out a lot of hidden truths and make a lot of otherwise unaccountable people accountable. Murdoch, of course, is going to continue to use his power, influence and money to close down the affair. It has been making false statements, threatening critics, paying hush money to silence people it had wronged, and preventing embarrassing information entering the public domain.

Update 2
The Murdoch's protect themselves and their media empire by closing down the News of the World. It had screwed itself. It assumed that the media should not be answerable to law and regulation and it was an example of how bad the British media is. The brand has been trashed. It was toast.

Murdoch closed the title to ensure his £8bn bid to take full control of BSkyB goes through-- ie., the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would deliver BSkyB into News Corp's hands. Murdoch is cutting his losses to increase his gains. It's the old story of Tory collusion and another example of how those in power have been courted and captured by the Murdoch's. The political pressure will be on to ensure that Murdoch full takeover of BSkyB is frozen, pending full judicial investigation of the hacking saga and until a proper inquiry into press law, ethics and enforcement has been conducted. Will that happen?

News of the World, with its formula of crime, sex and sensation, was his entry into, and the building block for his UK newspaper empire. This would in turn finance the expansion of News Corp into a global media conglomerate. A British institution--its launch was in 1843 and it made the switch to a sleazy tabloid in 1984 because sales were falling away--- has been consigned to the dustbin of media history.

Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor and chief executive of News International stays as a firewall to protect James Murdoch. If she goes the spotlight will fall on to James Murdoch. It appears that the paper will be replaced by a Sunday edition of The Sun, which could be produced by staff at the daily. The $70bn (or so) BSkyB acquisition is the centre of his empire when the newspaper business finally withers and dies.

In a digital future there are great advantages to having one brand rather than two, especially when one has turned toxic through the use of illegal journalistic techniques.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:59 AM | | Comments (10)


It amuses me when the righties rave on about 'freedom of the press', "right to free speech", 'censorship' [particularly ironic is the current example of some of the media claiming Monckton is being censored because a footy club doen't want him to speak at their venue] and so on yet fail to acknowledge that we have each of these social phenonema operating in extremis within the mainstream capitalist press, Murdochian in particular, as standard operating procedure.
Essentially one man [OK its really a family and associates with corporate buddies as well but near enough] and one never elected at that nor in any way responsible nor accountable for his actions to the voters as such has the economic and political power to deny free speech [climate change scientists for example], censor that with which he disagrees [humanising regugees for example], smear and misreport those he doesn't like who are a threat to his greed [the Greens for example], all the ills the proponents of 'freedom of the press' purport to be so worried about.
Its a very selective use of the concepts of democracy.

This latest example of the phone hacking is instructive.
Its really quite a trivial issue, as compared to, for example, Iraq et al/climate change/poverty/terror against women and a whole host of issues which the MSM, again Murdochian in particular, ignore or distort for economic and political gain.

I wish the spotlight would fall on the failures of the media to properly inform the public about their world but the 'phonegate' issue shows how censorship has such a tight rein on our political agenda.

Murdoch will protect Rebekah Brooks and sacrifice Andy Coulson, the former editor of News of the World, to do so. In the Evening Standard Roy Greenslade points out that:

The hacking occurred because the paper was desperate to obtain exclusive stories that its editor and senior executives believed would result in the paper winning more readers. In other words, at its heart, it dispensed with ethics for commercial reasons.

It's a standard Murdoch practice. All he cares about is getting control of BSkyB.The Conservative Government continues to allow him to do so.

Labour, in opposition, should fight Murdoch. They must loathe him, and they have nothing to lose now. News International has become too powerful, has abused that power by systematically breaking the law and corrupting the police.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has until the last couple of days largely ignored the phone-hacking story because he feared the ‘three years of hell’ at the hands of the Murdoch press.

He instructed Labour MPs to go easy on the scandal and not to link it to the impending decision on Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB.

News International, the owner of the Times, the Sunday Times, the News of the World and the Sun, approximately one third of the domestic newspaper market. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has ruled that Murdoch, who owns a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, can now buy it outright (save for Sky’s news channel).

BSkyB is the real prize. The profits from BSkyB will dwarf anything he will ever earn from News of the World. The deal will still go through says the Cameron Government.

This deal consolidates Murdoch as by far the most significant media magnate in the UK, wielding vast political and commercial power. Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, and former editor of News of the World, will not be allowed to stay in the way of the deal going through.

"the phone hacking is... really quite a trivial issue, as compared to, for example, Iraq et al/climate change/poverty/terror against women and a whole host of issues which the MSM, again Murdochian in particular, ignore or distort for economic and political gain."

Maybe, but the exchanges int eh emergency session in the House of Commons witnessed senior elected politicians daring to challenge the powerful Murdoch empire ---as opposed to paying homage by licking the boots of the bullies.

Yes Peter I agree that this [belated] challenge by pollies about mass media tyranny is welcome and to be applauded [although I do think the article you cite is a bit optimistic].
But I do wish they, everybody that is including the pollies, had made a habit of doing so about issues of vastly greater importance - for example the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the invasion of Iraq - and drew the obvious connections with Murdoch's stable of 'news' outlets of all types and all nations.

I'm not belittling the value of the expose of phonegate [whatever its called] but just wish that it was the tip of a very large iceberg which would sink the titanic propaganda machine that is western MSM and of which Murdoch is the extreme example but not the only one.

It will have an effect on David Cameron, the British PM. He is in the sewer because of his News International friends. He'll weather this storm even though some of his friends do a bit of jail time. The cost could well be not allowing the BSkyB bid to proceed.

Om the other hand, Murdoch's tabloids have done over so many people and made so many enemies that they may decide to ensure that News International comes under increased pressure. Those who have been badly battered and bruised by the bully boys will try to inflict as much financial and reputational damage as they can.

Now is the time to do it. Labor appears to have discovered a bit of political courage after years of traditional obsequiousness towards the Murdoch press. They'll want some News International blood to be split on the floor.

what Murdoch preaches is different from what he practices

there is widespread revulsion and hostility towards News International at almost every level of British society.

The communications regulator, Ofcom, has issued a statement saying it was monitoring the investigations into the scandal and that in the context of the debate about phone hacking and other allegations it had a duty to be satisfied that the holder of a broadcasting licence needed to be ‘’fit and proper’’.

That's one way to inflict some damage on News International.

The Australian has dirty hands with respect to the Simon Artz affair. Artz, a Victorian policeman, leaked details of a counter-terrorism raid to The Australian’s Cameron Stewart in 2009. As a result, Artz and Stewart were investigated by the Office of Police Integrity, and Artz was later charged. The Australian responded with a vicious campaign against the investigation and then against Police Commissioner Simon Overland in particular.

The Australian's sustained attack on Office of Police Integrity and Overland was intended to be intimidatory. The case against the newspaper was eventually settled out of court with much secrecy. This conduct by News Ltd has similarities with News International's British tactics.

New's toxic culture has an antipathy and hostility to democracy.

Henry Porter in The Guardian observes that the door has shut on Murdoch because of his abuse of power.

Things do revert in politics but there will never be a return to normal service for the Murdoch family, which has lectured us over the years about standards and trust but whose employees may be guilty of thousands of criminal acts, now accused of suborning and bribing the police and suspected of a serious obstruction of justice with the alleged deletion of email archives.

Looking back it was clear that both political parties succumbed to the confidence trick that they couldn't win an election without Murdoch's help, nor run the country without giving him the keys to the back door.

He adds that:

Journalists and politicians, advisers, PR people, writers and lawyers drank Murdoch's champagne, swooned in his company, took his calls and allowed Rebekah Brooks to irradiate them with her crooked little smile. Over more than three decades, the perversion of politics by and for Murdoch became institutionalised, a part of the landscape that no one dared question.

Serious crimes were committed and the police covered them up.